San Diego: A Model for Active Transportation Planning


The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) made a commitment in 2011 with the adoption of its Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS) to improve conditions for active transportation. The most impressive action of this program was that SANDAG recognized the need to fast track investments and develop an “Early Action Program” (EAP). The EAP consists of both bicycle improvements and a broader-spectrum active transportation component including Safe Routes to School and First-Last Mile transit access improvements. The EAP allows the county to build out its bike and pedestrian networks sooner in order to capitalize on the economic benefits, health benefits, reductions in collisions and reduced maintenance costs that will result from these improvements.

Over the past two years the agency has moved forward aggressively to make good on this commitment by initiating a number of planning and infrastructure projects. On September 27th, the agency took a huge step forward towards funding this vision by dedicating $200 million towards the expansion of the regional bike network. The Bike EAP comprises 42 projects totaling about 77 miles of new bikeways that would make it much easier for people to ride their bike to school, work, transit stations, and other major destinations.

According to a recent press release by SANDAG, “The Bike EAP will be funded by TransNet, the regional half-cent sales tax for transportation approved by San Diego County voters. By dedicating local funds for bike projects, the region will be well-positioned to compete for outside funding. SANDAG will maximize funding opportunities from other sources by moving all the bike projects toward construction on a rolling timeline, so at any given time there would be shovel-ready projects.” This forward thinking strategy positions SANDAG well for future rounds of federal stimulus funding or new funding sources such as California Cap and Trade funding.

Beyond the Bike EAP, SANDAG has shown leadership by partnering with San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency to develop a regional Safe Routes to School Strategy and provide funding to local agencies for Safe Routes to School planning efforts. This work should eventually result in additional funding for Safe Routes to School efforts by SANDAG as it seeks to flush out the other components of its broader active transportation goals.